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View Poll Results: Do you scan B&W negatives in color or grayscale?
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Color or grayscale for scanning B&W film?
Old 02-06-2008   #1
iamzip
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Color or grayscale for scanning B&W film?

I just recently purchased an Epson 4490 scanner, and I was wondering what setting most people use when scanning B&W negs? Do you scan in 16 bit grayscale, or 24 bit color, or something else? If you scan in grayscale, does that squash the tonality of the film - will different films look the same? Conversely, does scanning B&W film in color add unwanted colorations? I'm using the Epson Scan software that came with the scanner, and I have scanned an image both in color and grayscale, and there is definitely a difference.

BTW, I'm aware that the poll lists "Grayscake" as an option, apparently you can't edit a poll once you post it.
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Old 02-06-2008   #2
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Heh at Grayscake... I have always scanned in colour and converted to grayscale later - I'm led to believe that this method scans more information?
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Old 02-06-2008   #3
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Usually in color and convert later. However lately I have tried Grayscale 16bit HDR with Silverfast and am pleasantly surprised.
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Old 02-06-2008   #4
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The thing I have found makes the biggest difference is to scan negs as positives in the highest bit-depth available, and invert later in PS to get a positive image. I'm using a Microtek i900 and Silverfast, if that makes any difference.
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Old 02-06-2008   #5
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Color 16 bits; get as much data as possible then weed it out.
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Old 02-06-2008   #6
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Also having 4 channels gives you more to play with.
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Old 02-06-2008   #7
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I scan B&W as B&W using Nikon and Epson, Nikonscan, Vuescan, and Epson...except when scanning silver film with Nikonscan, which wants the neg to be scanned as a positive.
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Old 02-06-2008   #8
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You want to get all the info you can out of the neg. I have even scanned as a transparency and inverted in Photoshop. Works very well.
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Old 02-06-2008   #9
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Grayscale at 200 dpi gives me nice files of a reasonable size to print later as 4X6. It won't clog the computer and the images look good to me (actually gorgeous, but I don't want to brag ).

I used to scan in color and then desaturate... but I got all bogged down by the file size, so that's why I switched.

Now... I keep wondering why my images look soft on the computer screen but remarkably sharp in print! But that's another matter.
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I use the green channel
Old 02-06-2008   #10
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I use the green channel

iamzip,

I scan in color, use the green channel and throw away the other two channels. I gut the idea from Paul Butzi (see link: http://www.butzi.net/articles/colorscan.htm ), but for me the green channel works better than the blue.

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Old 02-06-2008   #11
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I scan using the "B&W negative" mode on my film scanner, but that isn't to say better results couldn't be had using color positive or some other setting. I just get tired of spending so much time converting every single shot, on top of contrast adjustments etc.

I have found scanning color in 16 bit results in a far better image, but it's not something I do regularly because it takes so much disk space and time. I haven't seen for myself any difference in 16-bit B&W scans in the B&W I've done that way, however. Not to say it isn't there.
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Old 02-06-2008   #12
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I tested, compared, and just scan in 16-bit greyscale. Of course I adjust the heck out of the image after I get the raw, flat (low-contrast) scan.
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Old 02-06-2008   #13
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I've always used grayscale... 16 bit if available, or time allows. But I just had some scans done and they were in RGB so I played the RGB curves a little bit to give it a nice tone and then saved the curve. I think it worked well and I plan to reuse it.
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Old 02-06-2008   #14
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I'd be interested in what Todd Hanz does. Are you out there? I've always admired the depth of his scans. They stand out to me, even on the screen.

There's probably a workaround, but when I scan in greyscale then I can't create a layer in Photoshop to duotone my scan. I have a limited knowledge of PS!
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Old 02-06-2008   #15
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It depends on the film, the scanner, and how much in reasources (RAM, HD space, CPU horsepower) one has. I almost always scan in 16-bit greyscale (although, in the case of Kodak's BW400 CN, I scan in RGB and auto-save in 16-bit greyscale (via VueScan, which allows this), since there's that orange cast to deal with, unlike Ilford XP2 SUper, which behaves more like a conventional b/w film in this regard.


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Old 02-06-2008   #16
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I have tested colour conversion, but I saw no difference, so I scan in 16 bit B&W. The scan as positive option can be useful depending on your scanner, software and neg density, to control better the clipping/shadow detail. I am going to try the colour conversion again when I manage to get fully stained negs with Prescysol EF - this is what the author recommends, to fill out better the inter-grain space with the staining. Will keep you posted on the results.
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Old 02-06-2008   #17
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color and desaturate or positive and invert then desaturate
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Old 02-06-2008   #18
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The Epson software for the 4990 flat bed lets you designate the type of film (B&W, color negative, color positive) separately from the type of scan (Greyscale/Color 16 bit, 24 bit, 48 bit). For me this system works much better when I tell it the film is B&W, but scan it in 24bit color. In fact, scanning in 16 bit greyscale looks pretty crummy. (I just tested it). Using this method the scan appears in B&W without having to convert it via post-processing.

Attached is an example done my way. Ilford 3200, medium format, Mamiya 7II 150mm lens.

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File Type: jpg 02062008_002.jpg (82.8 KB, 301 views)

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Old 02-07-2008   #19
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16 bit grey scale at the highest optical resolution on my Coolscan V. When I tested that against the colour and select a channel approach I couldn't see an advantage in either and so chose the one that gave me the smallest files.

I once asked Ed Hamrick of Vuescan fame if he could have a mode in the software that scanned negatives as positives and then inverted the scan. His response was that was what the scanner did anyway so there was no point.
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Old 02-07-2008   #20
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I'm a complete newbie in sacnning... I've bought a plustek for home but unfortunately I don't have time to play with it. I've done some scans using a flatbed epson, here two examples, first ilford hp5 scanned as B/W negative in greyscale:

(pic missing)

and 2nd, ilford delta 100 scanned as B/W negative in 16b color:


Another question I've noticed using the plustek is that scanning in 16bit color a B/W negative noise is mainly comprised in the blue channel being the other two much more clean.

P.S. Please forgive me for the awful english usage I've
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Old 02-07-2008   #21
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I've tried both. I reckon that if your target is the the same bit depth (say 16 bits), then scanning at 16 bit gray, or at 16-bits per color RGB and converting to gray afterwards, should get you the same results either way - as every pixel you scan is gray, you should get the same level in each color channel (if it didn't give you that, the gray scan would actually be colored). And when I compare scans done both ways I can't really see any difference.

But the difference comes if you might want to adjust the color channels before converting to gray. I'm not really sure what the benefit of that is (but I know some people do it). But as I haven't had any desire to do that, I currently scan grayscale, with the plan that if I should ever want to try adjusting the color channels in any scans I've done (assuming I find out what the purpose is), I'll go back and make an RGB scan.
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Old 02-07-2008   #22
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Quote:
Color 16 bits; get as much data as possible then weed it out
That's something that puzzles me a bit - you get more data using color scanning, but do you get more information? (The two are not the same).

What I'm thinking goes like this (I'm using 8-bit values just to keep the numbers simpler): Suppose you scan a gray pixel (they're all gray - it's a B&W neg) that has a density of 128 (on a scale of 0-255). If you scan grayscale, you get a result of 128, but if you scan RGB you get a result of (128, 128, 128) - the latter contains no more information than the former.

Does that make sense?
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Old 02-07-2008   #23
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Here's what happened w/ me. I was using a Nikon V ED film scanner, and scanned in a B&W neg from Ilford HP5 using the color setting, then using the mono setting (whether this is the same as your Epson's grayscale setting I couldn't say). The color setting resulted in an image that definately had more detail and looked quite different. But I found that I didn't like it as much as the mono scan, which looked more like what I consider a B&W image to look like from conventional B&W film. I tried this on several negs to make sure this wasn't image specific and came to the same conclusion. After that I did all of my scans in mono mode. Over the course of a few years I've tested this on other negs and always get the same results.

I also tried scanning in the negs using the Nikon's default 8 bit mode, then using it's highest 14 bit (per channel) mode and saw no difference in the images on my monitor. To make sure, I printed the images at 13 x 19 and saw absolutely no differences. Maybe for color, but not for B&W.

I think this is the only way you are going to get meaningful results from your Epson. Sit down and devote several hours to experimentating w/ the different scan modes and see what works best for you.

I am assuming you are going to be editing the images in Photoshop or a comparable image editing program, and not printing direct from the scan. You will see that this is where you are going to see the biggest difference in how your image eventually looks. It took me a long time to figure out how I wanted the shots to look using channels, curves and all sorts of tools, but now that I have it down I can go into the program and optomize my images very quickly.

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Old 02-07-2008   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drewbarb
The thing I have found makes the biggest difference is to scan negs as positives in the highest bit-depth available, and invert later in PS to get a positive image.
I've tried this a couple times with my different scanners and with using Vuescan, Nikonscan and Epson Scan and simply never found any benefit or difference in the end result that I could see. I read articles that show how in theory it should make a difference but I just never seen it.
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Old 02-07-2008   #25
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I've tried scanning b&w negs by every possible way over the years.

I have concluded that scanning at a greyscale negative is as good as anything else.

The scanner initially captures the same basic data, no matter how you do it. You cannot change that. It captures RGB data. The scanner software combines those channels into a grey scale file that it outputs. Same as you later do in PS. The scanner software can output that data as either a positive or negative. Same as you later convert in PS. Therefore no difference if the scanner software works well. I use Vuescan and it does work well.

Again, the key thing is that the scanner initially captures the same data from the film regardless of how it later manipulates and outputs it.
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Old 02-07-2008   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsopa
I'm a complete newbie in sacnning... I've bought a plustek for home but unfortunately I don't have time to play with it. I've done some scans using a flatbed epson, here two examples, first ilford hp5 scanned as B/W negative in greyscale:


and 2nd, ilford delta 100 scanned as B/W negative in 16b color:


Another question I've noticed using the plustek is that scanning in 16bit color a B/W negative noise is mainly comprised in the blue channel being the other two much more clean.

P.S. Please forgive me for the awful english usage I've
This is precisely what I am wondering about: the color tones on these two images are completely different. If you were to scan the second image as grayscale, would it still look the same? Or would it look closer to the first image?
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Old 02-07-2008   #27
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I've always scanned my Tri-x in B/W mode. However, lately I haven't been too happy with my current film and developer combo. (lab processed with Xtol)

Just last week I came across one theory (written by Michel Pollet) of scanning using 8 bit B/W mode and scanning at max. resolution. According to the author, scanning in 8 bits will give less noise and a smaller work file. He also mentions about scanning to a JPEG (not really sure if I agree about this point) to save space on your drive.

So far I've been quite happy with the result, both on screen and printed on either a Lambda or inkjet. I'm looking forward to trying with other various of film and developer.

You can read Michel Pollet guide to B&W scanning here:

http://oomz.net/bw_workflow/
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Old 02-07-2008   #28
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I scan B&W as grayscale, it gives the same information in a smaller file size. Which becomes significant when scanning at higher pixel densities. The one time I scanned as a color negative I didn't just get a color cast, the scan was black and orange! When desaturated, it blew the midtones into a uniform gray. (coolscan 9000)

That said, I don't tone my images in PS (I don't tone them at all), the printing drivers that came with the Epson R2400 have a feature for toning that seems to work well on the few occasions I've used it.
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Old 02-07-2008   #29
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Michael Pollet's scanning tutorial is the one I've modelled my workflow after. It seems to work very well for me.

One thing that has helped me with consistency of appearance is calibrating my monitor (or simply loading the calibration profile) for sRGB. My output from the scanning/processing sequence is in sRGB so things look similar.
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Old 02-07-2008   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamzip
This is precisely what I am wondering about: the color tones on these two images are completely different. If you were to scan the second image as grayscale, would it still look the same? Or would it look closer to the first image?
I've done the test and yes, it looked very similar to the first image. I' going to have a lot of time to do tests (I've just get a hip replacement so I'll have two or three months without working), I'll post results ASAP (today I'll left the hospital)
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Old 02-09-2008   #31
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IMHO scanning in color allows for better control of highlights and shadows by manipulating each channel separately. Not that it can't be done through curves in most well exposed negatives, but the manipulation of color channels seems to provide a wider range of possibilities especially in less well exposed images.
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Old 02-12-2008   #32
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???

Michel Pollet's tutorial seems very interesting for me.
I use Quadtone rip for printing with Epson R800 which asks for tiff files.
Should I just convert from jpeg to tiff in the end? Or will I loose quality?
I know I could try myself but maybe I can save expensive ink and paper
if someone has the knowlege...?
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Old 02-16-2008   #33
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I use Michel's tutorial as well, BUT I use Tif right from the start. I am not concerned about speed or space of my computer and prefer not to damage any pixels. I only use JPEGS for the web - everything else is either PSD or TIF.
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Old 02-19-2008   #34
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Scanner: Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III
Setting: B&W positive, 16bit depth
Postprocessing: invert, adjust black and white point in levels dialog

That way I capture most of the information that is on film, without clipping highlights or lost shadows (which is the problem with B&W negative setting). Thanks to the 16bit depth even if I adjust curve, the histogram doesn't look like a comb.
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Old 07-11-2008   #35
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I agree with scanning as a positive then inverting. These settings capture more information at the time of the scan and do not lose them in the inversion process.
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Old 07-11-2008   #36
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I scan as positive and invert in photoshop to b&w.

But depends on your negative, for Fuji b&w I can see it is better scanned in grayscale directly.
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Old 07-11-2008   #37
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A few years ago I posted some comparisons between scanning B&W and scanning color for regular silver-based B&W film.

I found the threads, but alas, all of the attachments are gone.
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Old 07-11-2008   #38
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This issue has been raised a fair bit at the Large Format photography forum. What we found with in depth testing was that all scanners have different amounts of noise depending upon the color channel used. For some scanners, scanning in RGB and using the green channel or blue channel resulted in less noise in the image. Scanning in greyscale blends these channels together and does not give you the option.

As well, the optics of the scanner can work better in different wavelengths. I found for example, that on my Minolta Scan Dual IV, scanning in RGB, and selecting the green channel not only gave less noise, but a sharper image as the optics had less aberration in the green.

It is common practise in scanning and printing workshops to NEVER scan in greyscale, but use RGB and pick the best channel.
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Old 07-11-2008   #39
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I scan 4800 ppi 16bit color tifs. I use HDL desaturate in Lightroom and then go from there.
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Old 07-11-2008   #40
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I normally scan in greyscale.

It seems doubtful that I'll need that extra detail, or that my flatbed (canon 8600f) is even capable of anything better than what I'm getting.
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